How Long Can You Store Meat in the Fridge or Freezer? | Reader's Digest

How Long Can You Store Meat in the Fridge or Freezer?

Food storage brings up a lot of questions and concerns, especially when it involves meat products. Here are guidelines for deciding what's safe to eat.

By Reader's Digest Editors
Frozen Hamburger Patties© iStockphoto/Thinkstock

To freeze or to refrigerate, that is the question. At least, that’s the question many of us ask ourselves each time we unpack our groceries. How long will tuna salad last in the refrigerator? Do you need to freeze uncooked chicken right away? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers the following guidelines (and much more) on its website FoodSafety.gov.

Raw poultry lasts just a day or two in the fridge (at a temperature of 40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder), but up to a year in the freezer. Cooked poultry can be refrigerated a few days longer and should be frozen no longer than 2-6 months.

Red meat and pork can remain in the refrigerator up to 5 days and can be frozen for 4-12 months. Leftover cooked meat will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator and 2-6 months in the freezer.

Ground meats (beef, veal, pork, or poultry) can be refrigerated for 1-2 days and frozen for 3-4 months.

Lunchmeats and hot dogs will last two weeks in the refrigerator unopened and should be eaten within 3-5 days of opening (hot dogs can go a couple of days longer). In the freezer they’ll last 1-2 months.

Bacon is safe to eat for up to a week in the fridge—but raw sausage should be eaten within two days. Both can be frozen for a month, and some sausage will freeze for twice as long.

Eggs can be refrigerated for up to a month raw but no more than a week hard-boiled. Only egg whites or beaten eggs (yolks and whites) should be frozen (i.e., not whole eggs), and will last for up to a year. Egg substitute and separated egg whites or yolks should be eaten within 2-4 days of refrigeration.

Deli salads (chicken, tuna, egg, pasta, etc.) will last 3-5 days in the fridge and should not be frozen.

Looking for more food storage tips? Click through the safety guidelines and graphics at FoodSafety.gov.

  • Your Comments